An all carbon bike?

A while back my awesome LBS gave me a box of carbon tubes and lugs and said “You’re the right person to give these too!”. And with that I had 4 frames to build, one of which I’ve completed.  Take a squizz:

The process wasn’t a simple one. Here’s what I did:

  • Bonded all carbon tubes and dropouts together
  • Sanded and filed those back.
  • Drilled and riveted front derailleur clamp
  • Drilled and set water bottle bosses
  • Drilled custom internal cable routing
  • 3D printed custom rear brake boss
  • 3D printed cable stop for front derailleur cable
  • Masked and handpainted the colour stripes with enamel paint
  • Flat black enamel spray followed by 3 coats of gloss enamel spray.

 

What does this mean for bamboo? Well, I don’t know at this stage. It’s certainly easier working with full carbon, pre-made tubes! Maybe there’ll be another bamboo bike made soon… only time will tell.

The Samurai is complete!

After successfully completing the frame strength testing I built up The Samurai on Saturday night and now she’s all ready to be packed up and shipped off to an eagerly awaiting owner in Sydney.  Click on the pic for all the details and photo gallery!

Here’s a video of the build too:

The Panda is born.

The Panda lives. I built her up today and her owner rode off happily into the sunset! I’d love to show you more photos, but instead I’m just going to tease you with the couple above and hope that you’ll come to the Made to Measure exhibition to see her in the flesh. It’s running July 21-24 and is to be held at the Royal Melbourne Exhibition Building. Think NAHBS, but smaller and all local! Click on the logo below to find out the details. It’s going to be great!

Finishing the Panda

The Panda’s getting the finishing touches now. 3 coats of clear coat to be exact. Here’s some pics after the first coat was still wet:

The Samurai isn’t that far behind. The head-tube’s all wrapped up and I’ll be able to work on her lots more once The Panda’s out the door. It’s been an interesting process to try to build two bikes at once – it seems like there’d be areas for time-saving, but in reality I’ve only got two hands and each bike requires such a huge amount of detailed work that you just can’t spread yourself thin that easily. Lesson learned for the future I guess!

 

Daisy finally meets Daisy

Two and a half months after the initial meeting Daisy’s finally found a home with her owner, Daisy!
They met on a gloriously warm and sunny Melbourne evening. Frolicking infront of my camera for a short moment and then riding off into the sunset for a game of tennis! It’s a perfect ending for me, and a perfect start for the Daisys. May they spend a life long adventure together!

Branding

I’m still toying about with how to brand the bikes. The second frame is featuring a hand engraved steel tube (or half of one) that’s wrapped around the left hand side chain stay.

To be honest it looks a little DIY at the moment, but when polished up and covered in epoxy I think it’ll look pretty good. For the next bike I’ll investigate laser etching a logo and lettering for a more professional look.

Top Coats

The frame’s all done except for the top coats of epoxy resin. I’ve applied the first and it’s hanging up to dry. This will be sanded back and then 3 more coats applied. Check out the pics:

I’ve tried my hardest to make the carbon fibre as smooth as possible with this frame. It’s a balancing act between sanding back too much or leaving a few wrinkles. It’s painstaking work, and at some point you just have to stop and say, that’ll do – it is after all, a handmade frame and should have a few handmade qualities about it. I am, however, investigating new methods for the carbon-fibre layup that can decrease the time spent on the process.

Over the finish line

After some 5 long months the first bike is finished!

I’ll write more up soon, but first impressions are it’s a sturdy smooth ride. 10.2kg with the current build on it, but could easily get under 10kg with some lighter wheels.

Many thanks to Huw, Scott and Tristram at Commuter Cycles for the constant good advice and for building it up for me. Brilliant job!

Here’s some pics of the final building and finished bike:

form over function

I’m not normally one for superflous veneers, but when given the opportunity to pimp my bamboo bike even more I just couldn’t resist.  With 2 hubs in tow (one new, one old), I measured the diameters between the flanges and got to work chamfering, splitting, gluing and sanding these bamboo veneers on. I’ve coated them in beeswax to protect them from the elements. I’ll need to reapply that every so often.

High gloss

Two layers of top coat later and the frame’s all finished!  It’s not the smoothest of finishes. There’s a few carbon fibre/cat hairs stuck in there and imperfections of my sanding back are clearly visible. Still, it’s just a prototype and doesn’t look too bad from afar.

The final processes haven’t been without drama though. During the drying process a few hairline cracks appeared on various parts of the frame. To mitigate further crackage I’ve wrapped the affected areas in carbon fibre tow (which are the black bands you can see on the down tube and chainstays).  The cracks are caused by the expansion of the bamboo at high temperature during drying (ie. around 80 degrees). I don’t expect it to crack any further, unless we get a severe heatwave…

It’s now off to the shop to get parts fitted. Hooray!

Sanded back

Today I put the last 2 layers of carbon on the seat-tube and then finally got to unwrap all the tubes and sand back the joints and bamboo.

Here’s what she looks like now:

The only things left to do now are:

  1. Drill a hole in the rear bridge for caliper brakes to mount
  2. Bind a small amount of carbon around one of the rear stays, which has developed a hairline crack during the build process.
  3. Coat the entire frame in “clear coat” (an epoxy based varnish)
  4. Put on parts!